First Event is moving to Boston!

First Event 2020 will be held at the Boston Park Plaza in downtown Boston, from January 29 – February 2. This is the first time in 40 years that First Event will be held in Boston instead of in neighboring suburbs. This FAQ intends to explain why we are making this change and to give a sense of what to expect.

Why is First Event 2020 leaving the Best Western in Marlborough?

We outgrew the Best Western in Marlborough – there were just too many compromises to serve our growing community. The space crunch led to Sunday workshops, turning away vendors who want to support us, and a rather uncomfortable dining experience at the fashion show.

So we had to leave the Best Western, but why downtown Boston?

We had 3 “must have” requirements for our new location:

  1. Sufficient space for programming, including workshops and social events
  2. Accessible by public transit from Boston so that the greatest number of people could attend, including those without cars or with insufficient means to take private transportation
  3. Affordable, allowing us to offer comparable prices to First Event 2019

We ran an exhaustive search process, engaging in deep discussions with transit-accessible hotels in less-crowded Boston neighborhoods and in the neighboring suburbs. It might be surprising, but very few of these hotels had sufficient programming space. And those that did, like the Newton Marriott and the new Encore Boston Harbor Resort were way too expensive for both hotel rooms and conference costs.

Will it really be affordable? Boston is SOOO expensive!

Yes, it will. And there will be more options at different price points.

Hotel rooms will cost $109/night (cozy rooms) and $139/night (superior rooms). In addition, we have arranged for beds at a nearby hostel for $34/night. For reference, rooms at the Best Western cost $132/night.

Registration fees will be as close as possible to 2019 registration fees. While we haven’t worked out the final numbers, we expect to keep workshop prices steady and evening events within about $5.

Food and drinks on your own may be a bit more expensive at the hotel, but the beauty of being in the city is that there are so many options right at your doorstep.

We also are finding that our downtown location is making us more appealing to conference sponsors. Sponsors cover a growing percentage of the costs of First Event, allowing us to keep costs as low as possible for attendees.

But what about parking? Parking in Boston is dreadful!

You are right. Parking in Boston is brutal. There’s no way around it – you won’t find the combination of price and convenience of parking at a suburban hotel.

We are actively exploring multiple parking options, including:

  • Negotiated rates with nearby garages.
  • Free or cheap parking farther from the hotel, with some options for getting to the hotel like transit, a shuttle van, or coordinating shared ubers/Lyfts.

Is there anything good about being at the Park Plaza in Boston?

You bet! We are super-excited about our new location, and really hope you love it as much as we think you will. Here are the 10 best things about our move:

  1. No Sunday workshops
  2. Easily accessible by public transit
  3. O’Connor’s Pub is next door
  4. Shopping on Newbury Street
  5. Easy to get to from Logan
  6. More welcoming to more diverse (age, race, gender identity, financial means) attendees
  7. Expanded evening programming (stay tuned!)
  8. More interest from potential conference sponsors, vendors, and workshop presenters, bringing more resources to the trans community
  9. They don’t call Boston the “hub” (of the universe) for nothing! Boston’s got spahts and cultcha like nobody’s business!
  10. This is where we’ll have the fashion show and banquet. For reals!

Tell us what you think

We would love to hear what you think about the move. What are you most excited about? Any lingering questions or concerns? Post your thoughts below.

31 Replies to “First Event is moving to Boston!”

  1. Great move. I’ve marked my calendar and look forward to seeing everyone there and many new faces too. Boston is my favorite city and First Event is my favorite conference.

    1. A major problem. In fact, such a problem that I’m seriously considering passing. It’s not just the expense. It’s the hassle of getting into a traffic-snarled city by a certain time. It’s the hassle of finding a garage, and then having to walk blocks to get to the hotel, and then into the venue. And then hassle with the same issues on the long trip back home. If you need something from your car, it’s a long trip back to the garage. And to be honest, it’s far less safe in such places than the parking lot at the Marriott in Newton, or other suburban locations.

      It’s great for those who live in Boston, or ride the T, but it’s a serious issue for anyone who has to travel by car.

      1. It will be a shame, a major shame, if many of the long-timers choose not to attend because of the abrupt change of city. I’d urged a one year extension in Marlborough so as to gather more data and prepare people for an eventual move. Instead the leadership chose “cold turkey.” I understand the thinking but am sad that many — perhaps very many — will be disadvantaged or worse by this abrupt shift of location. I’m hoping for the best but have already heard from friends who are seriously considering not attending next year. Is it truly a good thing to exchange long-timers, who helped build and sustain the conference, for daytimers in the City?

  2. I think you’ve done a great job coming up with solutions to the problems you faced at the Best Western this past January. I talked to quite a few people at First Event (and at Keystone) about this move, and cost (especially for parking) was by far the #1 concern that I heard. It sounds like you’re working hard to address this issue.

    These are “good” problems to have, because they arise from the incredible growth that First Event has undergone over the last 5 years. This is a testament to the quality of the event; everyone wants to go! I for one am looking forward to participating next year (#8 for me!) in downtown Boston!

  3. Dear Friends,

    You will perhaps recall that I urged you to wait one year before making this change. That suggestion was less about me and more about some of the girls I know for whom Marlborough was a particular comfort zone. For them the change will bring great anxiety and, for some, an end to their attendance at the conference. The increased prices will also, for some, be a major deterrent. As for myself, I’m likely to attend, as I enjoy the conference so much. You will recall that I have volunteered for several years and am likely to volunteer again.

    I’ve stayed at this hotel several times, although not for a few years. I’ve found it to be fine, albeit dated and quirky. You will need to stay close to management before and during the conference.

    1. Thanks to everyone for the comments. It’s great to see the enthusiasm and the open minds by which many are approaching this major transition.

      Emily – please continue to send anybody our way who thinks they’ll stop attending with the move to Boston. We’d love to see if there are things we can do to make sure everyone continues to feel welcome. Also note that the Park Plaza recently underwent a $100 million transformation so hopefully you won’t find it to be so dated.

  4. I think this sounds very exciting, and I’m so proud of the team at First Event which is making this possible. The truth is, with mass transportation, most won’t need their cars on a daily basis. I’d love to find a place to “tuck it away” for a few days until the festivities are over.
    The dining, evening opportunities, the shopping, just the sheer number of things to do is thrilling. And these days, for those of us comfortable enough to traverse the great outdoors, the conference is becoming less about “what’s in it for me?”, and more about us becoming Ambassadors of the Trans Community. I think this is a terrific step forward.

    1. I welcome the opportunity to be an Ambassador to the Trans Community. Last year at First Event I went to the local Macy’s to get something I had forgot to bring. I went as Lisa and the sales woman I interacted with knew nothing about First Event but wanted to know what it was all about. She was very accepting. For those of us comfortable being in public it is great opportunity to show we are just regular women.

  5. It sounds great!!! I love the idea of being in Boston. The price sounds very fair and I am looking forward to taking the train from NYC to Boston instead of driving. Last year I investigated trying to get to Marlborough with mass transit but it was just too difficult. Last year I had to drive in yucky weather to get there. All around an EXCELLENT move! Looking forward to it.

  6. A follow up question. Last year was my first year and I was impressed with the level of security at the conference last. It is said it has to be that way but that is the times we are a living in. Will you maintain the same level of security at the new location?

  7. Hello Michelle,
    Positive Vibe! I only see the up-side to our move. Right after the move was announced, I took my camera to The Boston Park Plaza to see what I could see. Only good things. Like most hotels, it was pretty slow, so most rooms were closed & locked. Everyone I met, like all 17 employees I talked with we happy to have us coming to their hotel almost a year away, very gracious to me, & general entheustastic.
    Yes, we are right in the heart of Boston, (thats a good thing). Yes, someone, by the law of averages, will run into the only crabby, miserable, p**%@#& alive. I can guarantee you, your overall greeting will be positive & good. Boston is, well, BOSTON! Ever-time I go in town, its like I’m a “real little girl”. I hardly get a side-ways glance. As always, don’t let your guard down, this is not Podunk, though I heard not nice things about Podunk, your in no more danger than in your own town, probably less. Relax, enjoy, don’t worry, be happy. I’ll go with you, that’ll scare them away. NGF

  8. I travel into Boston frequently for many reasons. My wife and I have stayed at the Plaza on “getaways” in the winter. I am very familiar with that part of Boston.

    That being said, I have serious reservations about the parking issue and the logistics of getting into the hotel. I fear that this would dispel many for attending. The expense of parking coupled with the cost of breakfast at the Plaza (for those who don’t venture out) would be key factors in the decision making process for many. I suspect many others might feel this way.

  9. well, I heard, several “boston” girls at this years f/e complaining about, driving out to the event, so figured, just a matter of time, things would change, many of us ” burbs” girls” have supported f/e for years, and because of the travel, parking, cost, involed with going to boston, at least the ones I know, have no interest going to boston, too bad for us I guess, boston wins again

  10. Thank you so much for all your tangible efforts to make First Event more inclusive. Change is hard. Conference logistics are always challenging and adding on a new space and addressing feelings of loss for some, especially in this transition, takes thoughtfulness and energy. I appreciate your ongoing communications with community members. This move will make the conference more accessible for many of our community, who vary in age, race, gender identity, and financial means, as you mention. I am excited to see the ongoing developments. The more we can truly get to know one another the stronger we are as a trans community.

  11. This is awesome…love that will be in Boston. So much in that area…the restaurants, shopping and theater district! Great call to move to the city.

  12. I Love the idea of moving to the heart of the city, the vibe, excitement.
    Will the new hotel have a pool?? My once a year escape.
    Is it possible to have a”color-ist,” I don’t know if that is a term, but some one from a department store who can give a talk on what color of clothing is best suited for the individual.I may have Summer skin tones or dark skin tones so blue or beige may not look the best on me . Just an idea . Keep up the GREAT work, it all sounds positive !!!

  13. I am very excited to learn of the new venue. It looks to be dynamic and full of charm. All of you make me feel super, even if I come all the way from Southern California to start my busy year. The move is so important in so many ways. Keep up the great work, and stay well.

  14. Wow! I’m So looking forward to 2020 now! Our first Trans Train trip! Who needs a car. We’re up in Maine – Portland to Boston express. I gotta start looking for matching luggage.

  15. I am traveling to FE from Albany NY area on Thursday Jan 30 and would be willing to pick up somoene on the way to Boston, particularly if the person would split the cost of parking.

  16. I recently read an article in the Boston Globe mentioning how each room has a mandatory $22.00 resort fee for each night stayed. Do the prices above reflect this fee or would this be added to the prices here?

    I am for the change but nervous on how to get my luggage and me by commuter rail into Boston since I would prefer not to drive my car.

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